Car manufacturer Ford is in the process of giving mechanical “exosuits” to 75 workers at 15 of its plants on a global scale, following successful trials of the technology.
The devices, known as EksoVests, wrap it around the upper part of the body, and to assist when lifting or reaching overhead.
It is hoped that the costumes will reduce injuries due to repetitive movements.
An industry observer said that this was a significant increase in the use of exosuits in the workplace.
Ekso Bionics is the company behind the devices, which were first used to two Ford assembly plants in the united states.
Now, the auto giant brings technology to several locations across seven countries: the united states, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Romania, China and Thailand.The improvement of overhead
Ford and Ekso say to the workers, the physical activity is comparable to a person lifting a bag of flour or a watermelon above their head 4 600 times per day.
To help reduce the tension, the exosuits provide support to workers arms as they reach up to perform manual tasks on the car bodies and parts suspended above their heads, for example, to screw the bolts in place with power tools.
The cameras can also help with the removal of major body components in place – including the skid plates and bumper.
They are not powered or controlled by an onboard computer, but instead of providing passive mechanical support to the user.
EksoVests workers between 5 feet 2 inches and 6 feet, 4 inches tall (1.57 m to 1.93 m) and offers lift assistance for expenses ranging between 5 lbs and 15 lbs per arm (2.3 kg to 6.8 kg).
“I don’t want to EksoVest to ever leave,” said Nick Gotts, a EksoVest user who works at Ford’s plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, one of the first institutions to integrate the technology.
“Any work that is in overload, I couldn’t work without it.”
Ford’s deployment of the technology has been the greatest adoption of exosuits by a company again, says long-time industry analyst Dan Kara, the Robot Report.
“Everything I’ve heard behind the scenes said that it is very positive,” he told the BBC.
“These [exosuits] are to act as an intermediary between a human do something, and a robotic solution.”
Mr. Kara pointed out that the benefits, including the reduction of injuries and increase the satisfaction of employees, were easy to measure, and this has encouraged manufacturing enterprises and others to move forward with the technology.
In a press release, Ford noted that the 2018 injury incident rate is currently a record low.